You must have heard a number of times that the holy personalities of Imam Al-Husayn (A), his companions and Ahl al-Bayt are distinguished because of their determination of not accepting disgrace in the Karbala tragedy. They could be made captives, shackled in chains, made to wear heavy iron collars, get wounded, get martyred but they cannot bear the load of disgrace even if women have to become captives.
It is narrated that when the Imam’s family members were made captives and brought to the court of Ibn Ziyad, women, including those from the Ahl al-Bayt as well as wives and slave-girls of the companions of Imam Al-Husayn (A) encircled Lady Zaynab (s.a.) and kept her veiled from the view. Lady Zaynab (s.a.) was tall; therefore she was visible even after being surrounded by other women. She did not greet the ruler upon entering the court.
Ibn Ziyad used to think that he has taken away all the strength of Ahl al-Bayt after the Karbala tragedy. His mean thinking was that he had made Ahl al-Bayt helpless and was expecting them to fall at his feet and seek forgiveness.
Thus, he had expected that at least Lady Zaynab (s.a.) would greet him even if based on some Divine Will. However, the determined daughter of Ali shattered all his expectations. He was enraged at this act of disrespect for him. Perhaps he was not aware that the souls of the family of the Prophet (s.a.) were not going to be intimidated.
When Lady Zaynab (s.a.) sat down,1 he proudly asked, “Who is this haughty woman?” Or he asked, “Why didn’t she greet me?” or asked, “Who is this woman careless about others?” (Both versions are found. One of them has the word Mutakabbir and other Munkir) No one replied to Ibn Ziyad’s question. He repeated his question once again but did not get any reply.
When he repeated it for the third or fourth time, a woman said, “This is Zaynab, the daughter of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (A)”.
Ibn Ziyad tried to deceive the people. He said, “Praise be to Allah for He disgraced you. He killed you and exposed your lie.” The accursed one continued to taunt Lady Zaynab (s.a.) with his words.
Lady Zaynab (s.a.) had a great responsibility on her shoulders at this moment. Hearing his words, the determined Lady Zaynab (s.a.) spoke in a defying manner, “All thanks is for the Lord Who gave Prophethood to Muhammad Mustafa and honour to us and granted the miracle of infallibility to our household. What you are saying is wrong.” Then she said,
“O Ibn Ziyad! Disgraced is one that is a sinner and a liar. We are not such!. We have dignity. Falsehood is not the practice of truthful ones. Falsehood is far away from us. O son of Marjana! May God destroy you!”2
Ibn Ziyad’s eyes were red in anger on hearing this. He hissed like a desert snake and said, “Do you still have strength left? Are you talking in the same way even after suffering so much? Are you still focused on your aim?”
Although “son of Marjana” are three words, they describe a story, which unveiled the lowly character of Ibn Ziyad. Ibn Ziyad’s mother, Marjana was an unchaste woman. Lady Zaynab (s.a.) directed the attention of everyone present in the court towards this fact by calling him “son of Marjana”.
Ibn Ziyad ordered his executioner to “behead that woman” (Lady Zaynab (s.a.)).
Similarly, when he addressed Imam Al-Sajjad (A), he also replied without hesitation. Thus, Ibn Ziyad ordered the executioner to behead that youth also. Hearing this, Lady Zaynab (s.a.) got up from her place, held Imam Al-Sajjad (A) near her and said,
“By Allah, you cannot kill him unless you behead me.”3
It is written that Ibn Ziyad looked at them for some time and then said: “What a strange thing blood relation is!”
“I can see that if I want to kill this youth, I will have to kill this woman first.”4
There is no power and might except by Allah the High and the Mighty
- 1. Normally, prisoners of war cannot sit without the permission of the commander of the victorious army but Lady Zaynab (s.a.) took her seat in Ibn Ziyad’s court without his permission and broke his pride. She made it clear that she was the actual victor and not he. (Rizwani)
- 2. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 243; Lohoof, Pg. 160; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 115-117; Muntahai ul-Amaal, Vol. 1, Pg. 735; Maqtal al-Husayn, Muqarram, Pg. 324.
- 3. Irshad, Shaykh Al-Mufid, Pg. 244; Bihar Al-Anwar, Vol. 45, Pg. 117; Maqtal al-Husayn, Muqarram, Pg. 325.
- 4. Falsafa Akhlaq, Pg. 57-59.